EA’s Hilleman Suggests Battlefield 4 Launch Woes Overblown

According to Electronic Arts Chief Creative Officer Rich Hilleman, a lot of complaints about the launch of Battlefield 4 can be chalked up to “noise.”

Speaking with Rock Paper Shotgun last week at DICE in Las Vegas, Hilleman briefly discussed Battlefield 4, but when asked about the “terrible launches” of Battlefield 4 and SimCity, suggested he didn’t reckon launch success the same way players might.

“I’m not sure I accept your premise,” Hilleman said of the idea the game had “terrible launches.” “Battlefield 4 has been an exceedingly successful product on both consoles and PC. From a sales perspective, from a gameplay perspective.”

Hilleman went on to say that, with so many players purchasing Battlefield 4, the expression of the game’s launch problems might have been larger than the actual sizes of the problems.

“I think there was a lot of noise about the game, but some of that is a function of your surface area,” he said. “The more customers you have, the more noise becomes available. We did things wrong. We know that. We’re gonna fix those things. We’re gonna try to be smart about what customers want in the future.

“But I’m not willing to accept — and I don’t think most of my customers are willing to say — ‘it’s a bad product, I wish I didn’t buy it.’ That’s not the conversation we’re having now. I think what we’re hearing is, ‘You made a game we really liked. We would’ve liked it a little better if it didn’t have these problems.’ Many of those problems we can fix, and we have and will.”

That’s an interesting perspective, considering that at least some of Battlefield 4′s problems persist to this day, and Battlefield 4 launched in October. Developer DICE has put work on DLC for the game on hold until the game is fixed.

It’s true that Battlefield 4 is fundamentally a strong game, as noted in the interview — our Devin Connors felt the same way when he reviewed the title (at an EA review event). But Hilleman’s willingness to chalk up major issues, or at least player complaints about them, to “noise” because of increased “surface area” isn’t going to improved game launches.

Of course, one must expect a degree of corporate spin in situations like this, and all of EA’s discussions of troubled games like Battlefield 4 and SimCity are tinged with positive perspectives and upsides. Today at the Stifel Technology, Internet & Media Conference in San Francisco, EA Chief Financial Officer Blake Jorgensen suggested it was Battlefield 4′s complexity — a 64-player game at 60 frames per second — coupled with relative inexperience with developing for new consoles that might have contributed to the game’s issues.

But equating copies sold with whether a game’s launch was successful makes it easy to exclude customer satisfaction, and it seems like Hilleman’s attitude makes it more likely that we’ll see more rough game launches from EA, not fewer.


Phil Hornshaw is deputy Editor at Game Front. Find more of his work here, and follow him and Game Front on Twitter: @philhornshaw and @gamefrontcom.

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6 Comments on EA’s Hilleman Suggests Battlefield 4 Launch Woes Overblown

fethski

On February 11, 2014 at 5:45 pm

Oh EA you lovable scamps you. Will you never learn? I get the feeling that if somehow they win worst company in America for a third year in a row they’ll once again be shocked and have no idea why anyone would dislike them.

R.J.

On February 11, 2014 at 6:04 pm

What a surprise. EA takes strong sales to mean that there were no problems. Like Phil said, some spin is always expected, but to use EA’s words, I’m not sure I agree with them that sales equate to quality. I seem to recall that being a fallback during the first month after ME3 came out because, you know, pre-orders that people get before they even know about a problem mean the problem didn’t exist. Solid logic.

Kenny

On February 11, 2014 at 7:18 pm

Why do I have a feeling I will be sitting here reading very similar articles about Titanfall when it comes out in a few months. I hope I am wrong the FPS genre needs some new blood, but EA has a pretty terrible track record with online games as of late. Worst of all they do not seem to want to learn from there past mistakes. Yes, I know the game is only being published by EA and Respawn is an independent company.

BTW, when my save file in BF4 got corrupted for the 3rd time and it took EA a month to give me access to the premium service I paid for at launch, I did wish I had not bought the game.

Christopher Kandrat

On February 12, 2014 at 5:31 am

There has always have been launch bugs. Ea has been trying but people have a general negative view.

concernedgamer82

On February 12, 2014 at 9:17 am

Launch bugs are one thing, but EA has spent the past year trying to pretend that they don’t realize that they are one of the big developers. It’s like those people the feign humility as a means of bragging about themselves. Same thing here.

SimCity: “Wow! We weren’t expecting so many customers.”
Battlefield 4: “Wow! We weren’t expecting so many customers.”

I’ll be surprised if the same thing doesn’t occur with Titanfall.

My advice is the same as many others have already said when it comes to any game that EA releases: Don’t preorder. Wait until later.

Dach

On February 12, 2014 at 11:39 am

I’ve got to say that Battlefield 4 is a first for me.

It is the first game I have ever been able to get a full cash back refund on a game even after I opened the product.

I managed to record three separate instances of the game crashing and completely wiping my single-player save data.This has occurred to me 8 times [I still don't know what happens after the fifth mission]. Since all the times the game crashed were because I was [heaven forbid] watching a cut scene in the campaign I finally just packed the damn thing up and took it back to FutureShop.

I just hope EA doesn’t do this sorta spin and excuses filled legwork about “improving” and “fixing” their practices when they inevitably win worst company in America for a third year in a row.

I know I’m personally finished with purchasing any product with their stamp on it.